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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Synchronicity and Syncopation - My Encounter with a New Cajón

Situated in the heart of Fitzrovia, the London branch of Hobgoblin Music Store has been one of our favourite local shops.

(Photo by Mykadelica)

Established in Sussex in 1976, Hobgoblin has expanded all over Britain, and the London shop is their second child. Living up to its name as a humorous yet helpful spirit, they cater for unique selections of music instruments, promoting interests in folk and acoustic music. As soon as you open its door, you’ll be enchanted with the significant characteristic, very different from other ordinary music shops, displaying such a vast range of acoustic instruments, both popular and rare. You’ll be fascinated enough with their nicely selected guitars, ukuleles, harpsichords, etc., on the cosy first floor, but their real treasures are rather hidden in the basement. You’ll be amazed by the remarkable collections from around the globe, including a full set of gamelan, gongs, harps, various types of hand drums such as djembes, bongos, tablas, and of course, cajóns.

Whenever we pass Fitzrovia, my husband and I always sense the charming presence of Hobgoblin and can’t help stopping by, feeling in awe of the uniqueness of this shop. Just looking around at such attractive instruments is usually inspiring enough, but I had a fateful encounter.

Hoping that people will be interested in folk and acoustic music, Hobgoblin encourages you to try any of the instruments you fancy. I’m usually too shy to do that unless I already plan to buy something. Last weekend, I was just about to leave after buying a tambourine only, when I was invited to try their cajóns.

They had a range of J.Leiva, an innovative manufacturer based in Córdoba, Spain. Although the sophisticated designs of each cajón caught my eye, I was nervous about touching them. I also couldn’t help worrying about the prices, so I timidly tried a comparatively reasonable one first - a product called ‘Zoco’. It was a very well-made cajón with crispy sounds, good and beautiful enough. I liked it.

However, when I tried an ‘Alma Classé’ next… it literally clicked with me and I instantly fell in love with it at first ‘bang’ - how brilliant it sounds! I was also charmed by its smooth contours and elegant looks.

That was it. I built attachment and a bond with this particular cajón. I literally couldn’t leave the shop without getting it… And here it is… thanks to my lovely and generous husband, I’ve got the new cajón as my ‘birthday gift’ which came three months ahead (and I also bought the tambourine). This means I won’t have a gift on my real birthday but it’s OK, I’m now united with my own ‘Alma Classé’!

I got my first cajón as a Christmas present, also from my kind husband, in/around 2011. As soon as I started to learn how to play, I got so excited about the grooves and syncopations I could possibly make, and I still love playing it. My first precious cajón will therefore stay with me as is, but my new acquisition will probably join me in more gigs. It gives me motivation to improve further, to be good enough to live up to its quality, if I can. 

This happy encounter also helped me to regain motivation for writing again (this is my first article of this year). I felt a synchronicity happening between this musical inspiration and the flow of my writing. Thank you Mike, Hobgoblin, J.Leiva - my ‘Alma Classé’ will accompany me throughout my artistic journey with its grooves, rhythms and syncopations.

Hobgoblin Music Store

J.Leiva Percussion


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